Posted by: billpurdue | February 19, 2012

“Natural navigating’ and some new crime from Scandinavia

I love to get out in the fresh air and get some walking exercise – I don’t seem to walk as far as I used to these days, so my walks tend to cover familiar ground. I don’t have the need to do any “natural navigating” as advocated by Tristan Gooley, as I don’t get lost. However I did enjoy the short TV series called “All Roads Lead Home” on BBC2 last Autumn in which Alison Steadman, Sue Perkins and Steven Mangan attempted to follow a route using only natural signs to help them on their way after having some guidance from Mr Gooley.

Gooley’s The Natural Navigator [Virgin £14.99 978-1905264940] is still available, but the author now has a new book out: The Natural Explorer [Sceptre £16.99 9781444720310] which might be more up my street as it were. Country Walking magazine describes it as a “ cogent paean to the glories of nature, a call to arms to get out and appreciate the wonders of the natural world”. In my less poetic language I think it means that it’s a book that helps you to better appreciate your natural surroundings. I’ll need to have a good look at this book to find out more, as this theme has been explored before in other books. In the meantime have a look at Tristan Gooley’s Blog.

Moving to fiction now and the final Wallander novel is out in paperback this month: The Troubled Man [Vintage £6.99 978-0099548409] isn’t just a crime novel but as one reviewer put it, “is a work of genuine heft and substance, a melancholy, elegiac book that is thoughtful and perceptive about memory, regret and the unfathomability of human nature”. It’s not just a “local crime” either, involving as it does elements of international affairs. In the novel Henning Mankell is saying goodbye to Wallander and the other characters which have appeared in the Wallander stories. So, it seems, to say a fond farewell to Wallander , you have to read this novel, and I’ve every reason to believe it’s just as good as the others.

A Scandinavian crime writer new to me is Håkan Nesser (the ‘a’ with a tiny circle above it is normally pronounced like a short ‘o’). The Times says that Nesser is “in the front rank of Swedish crime writers”, so I’ve obviously not been paying attention. Anyway, The Unlucky Lottery, [Mantle, £16.99 9780230745728]published last October, is No 6 in the series featuring Inspector Van Veeteren. Four pensioners have jointly won 20,000 Kroner on the lottery, but just hours later one of them is found dead with stab wounds. “Beautifully crafted” and “intriguing plot”are just a couple of the complements paid to this novel, so it seems like a must for crime readers.

Finally Jonathan Gibbs in The Independent has found that there’s a crime novel for just about every country you might care to mention. Here are just three examples: Rural Ireland – German author Leonie Swann writes about Miss Maple (not Marple) who is actually a sheep! Switzerland – the Sergeant Studer books by Friedrich Glauser from the 1930s and Greenland – Peter Hoeg. Have a look at Gibbs’ article for the full list.

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